How Should We Respond When Our Culture Will Tolerate Everything but Biblical Truth? +Spookiest Stories in the Bible, #3 Plus: #310
Hello friends, and happy Lord’s Day! A happy and blessed November to you also! Please join us today for our livestream message at VBC Salinas on Facebook, 11am P.S.T. We’d love to have you, and if you jump on, then please be sure and say hello! Our Bible readings today begin with 2nd Kings 14, then Psalms 120, 121, 122, Hosea 7 and 2nd Timothy 4. Today we finish up our spookiest stories in the Bible series with the best one yet, about a man who returned from beyond the grave and suddenly appeared in a locked room, terrifying a group of already afraid men! But first, let’s talk for a moment about a dead-on prophetic word that Paul gave Timothy many years ago. In the last two chapters of 2nd Timothy, Paul appears to know that his time on earth is growing to a close, and he wants to prepare his protege Timothy for this and for running his own race well. In doing so, the Holy Spirit through Paul has also trained up generation after generation of people to proclaim the good news to a stubborn and obstinate world who wants to reject it. In 2nd Timothy 4, Paul tells Timothy how to handle things when he is in a culture that rejects truth…Paul’s ominous warning of a time coming when people won’t tolerate sound doctrine and Bible teaching sounds EXACTLY like the age that you and I find ourselves in. We should take some comfort in that, knowing that God knew this day was coming, and that we are given counsel on how to live in such a time. Let’s read the passage and discuss.
2 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But as for you, exercise self-control in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2nd Timothy 4:2-5
Paul says that there will be a time when people will flee from sound Bible teaching and flock to Bible teachers who don’t teach the Word, but teach whatever is popular and palatable to the culture. I believe that examples of this dynamic abound, as we see that there are so many large and growing churches in the U.S. that seem to be dynamic and lively and professional, but don’t appear to be teaching the Word faithfully. How must Christians live in that sort of climate? Should they move to another country and start afresh? Should they build communes in the woods and only see each other? Should they completely unplug from society and hunker down until Jesus returns? I don’t think so, actually. Instead, we should do what Paul tells Timothy to do Proclaim the Word of God with great PATIENCE, encouraging, rebuking, correcting people and teaching it with endurance. There is no other antidote for a running away from God’s truth than the continual and patient proclamation of that same truth. Do this work, dear friends – the faithful and enduring work of an evangelist, and you will be storing up crowns for yourself in Heaven!
One more spooky story, and this is the most amazing of them all.
#1 Spookiest Bible story: The Man Who Returned From the Dead!
Have you ever heard the term ‘miscarriage of justice?’ It usually refers to a situation in which the legal authorities or government inflict punishment on a person who is innocent. Considering what ‘miscarriage’ means, we can tell that this is a strong term that denotes a terrible event. Oddly enough, there is an even stronger legal term for a terrible, terrible justice event – something beyond a miscarriage of justice in the same way that a hurricane is beyond a thunderstorm in power and devastation, though both are storms. A ‘tragedy of justice,’ is that stronger term, and it refers to an extreme and deliberate miscarriage of justice – one in which the authorities intentionally and with malice convict somebody of a crime, knowing they are fully innocent. Such a horror happens in the Bible. An innocent man is convicted of high treason on the testimony of false witnesses that the government themselves hired. Despite protests, the innocent and beloved man is executed publicly in the most embarrassing, terrifying and painful way possible. This sounds like a recipe for vengeance from beyond the grave, right? And sure enough…a few short days after his execution, this man’s friends were gathered together in mourning, in a locked room because they feared that they would be the next to be executed and ALL OF A SUDDEN, the innocent man returns, appearing suddenly and dramatically in a LOCKED room and his followers immediately believe him to be a GHOST, and they are terrified.
36 As they were saying these things, [Jesus] himself stood in their midst. He said to them, “Peace to you!”37 But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. 38 “Why are you troubled?” he asked them. “And why do doubts arise in your hearts?39 Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself! Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”40 Having said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 But while they still were amazed and in disbelief because of their joy, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”42 So they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.
Of course, Jesus was the innocent man, killed by His own people in a TRAVESTY of justice, and yet, here He is, risen from the grave and appearing. NOT as a ghost, but as a real flesh and blood person who can eat fish. Surely now, He will have His revenge on the people who conspired to kill Him right? This is a story of VENGEANCE and it’s time for retribution, right? Actually, no…that’s not how the story goes. Jesus, returned from the grave and having overcome death Jesus commissions His disciples to first WAIT until they are clothed with power by the Holy Spirit, and then GO and take His good news to a lost and dying world.
18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The followers of Jesus were sent out not with a mission of vengeance, but a message of good news and a mandate to teach the world about their Master, Jesus. They were to present GOOD news to the world – the good news that all who believe in Jesus and become His followers will overcome death like He did and have eternal life in Heaven.
So – how can you become a part of this good news promise? I’m glad you asked! First of all, I need to tell you that you don’t have to DO anything. The work has ALREADY BEEN DONE by Jesus Himself! Almost every religion on earth is about what humans must do to reach God and be saved by Him. World religions are about the various rules to be followed, sacrifices to be made, and actions to be done in order to gain God’s attention and blessing. Following Jesus is NOT like that. Christianity is about what Jesus HAS DONE FOR US. HE PAID the price on the cross for our sins so that by HIS SACRIFICE, all who look to Him in faith will be saved and have eternal life. It’s not a question of WHAT TO DO, but WHO TO BELIEVE IN. So, right now – I urge you to believe in Jesus – you and your family. Believe that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sin and mine. Believe that God raised Him from the dead. Believe that, in Him, you will have everlasting life in Heaven. Believe in His teachings and follow them and follow Him. Believe that He is THE WAY, truth and the life. Turn to Him wholeheartedly and pursue Him with your life. All that come to Him in this way – trusting HIM for salvation and not your own goodness or good works – will be saved eternally! And that’s why we call it, “the good news!”